12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
The SkyTeam Alliance hopes to sign a deal with the British Airports Authority (BAA) by early next year to allow all its members to use Heathrow's Terminal Four.The nine airlines in the alliance hope to move into the terminal, now largely occupied by BA, when the British carrier moves into the new Terminal Five scheduled for opening in March 2008.Christine Ourmieres, Air France's new general manager in the UK, told a press briefing in London that negotiations were underway with BAA.“We are working closely with BAA and I think it will be finalised at the beginning of next year,” Ms Ourmieres said.“There are still issues to be settled. It is very complex but we hope to move in when BA moves into Terminal Five.”BAA has already negotiated a deal for the rival Star Alliance members to use Terminal One when Heathrow is re-organised after the opening of Terminal Five.At the briefing, Patrick Roux, Air France's vp marketing, said that the airline was planning to strengthen its merger with KLM by switching to one check-in and one reservation system, supplied by Amadeus, within the next two and a half year. He said it was a “huge project” and the first time two major airlines had merged their systems. But Mr Roux said it was still “too early” to talk about the SkyTeam members sharing a common IT platform.Ms Ourmieres also said if the Open Skies talks between the US and the EU went well and Heathrow opened up to more airlines for transatlantic flights Air France would look at running UK-US services.But she said the biggest challenger facing Air France in the UK was to increase long haul traffic out of the country.34% of Air France travellers from the UK went on to catch a long haul service from Paris. “I think the loss of passengers on the London-Paris route to Eurostar has stabilised and, depending on Eurostar, we will adjust our product.“But we will never stop this service because that would end our long haul market from the UK. That is our major challenge, to grow that market,” she said.Other points to emerge from the briefing were:* Air France/KLM's joint frequent flyer programme Flying Blue which was launched in June will be expanded to include new and more services including its own website to be opened later this month.* Air France plans to develop its services to Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, partly in the last region through its niche air service Dedicate.* Services between Paris Orly and London City Airport, a popular route for business travellers, will be increased in November.